The Gleam's 2-megapixel camera takes pictures in six resolutions, from 1,600x1,200 down to 176x144. Editing options are plentiful and include a self-timer, brightness and white balance controls, four color effects, three quality choices, a multishot setting, a night mode, ISO and spot metering, and a digital zoom. The camcorder takes clips with sound in two resolutions (320x240 and 176x144). Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 30 seconds; otherwise you can shoot for as long as the available memory permits. The SCH-U700 has about 50MB of available user memory. That's shared between all functions, so you're better off buying a microSD card for maximum storage. Photo quality was good but not fantastic. Though most colors were bright, reds and oranges were a bit blurry. Also, some objects appeared a tad grainy.
You can personalize the Gleam with a variety of color themes, wallpaper, and sounds. Alternatively, you can download more options, and more ringtones, with the wireless Web browser. The SCH-U700 doesn't come with any games but you can buy titles from Verizon. Just remember that the carrier uses BREW in its phones.
We tested the Samsung Gleam in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was generally good with clear audio and loud volume. Voices sounded natural most of the time, but at higher volumes our callers sounded a tad harsh. It wasn't enough to make our calls unsatisfactory but you might want to avoid turning up the volume too much. And in any case, since the phone does a decent job in noisy locations, we mostly avoided the issue. On their end, callers could tell we were using a cell phone, but they reported no significant problems. A few reported that we sounded somewhat robotic but that wasn't a universal assessment. Automated calling systems could understand us most of the time but not so much when there was a lot of wind.
Speakerphone calls were acceptable, though we had to be fairly close to the phone to be heard clearly. The same was true on our end. Though the speakerphone was loud, it didn't seem to carry very far. Voice dialing worked most of the time, but you really need to be in a quiet area for the best results. Bluetooth calls were good, but, as expected, it varied by headset.
Music quality was quite satisfactory thanks to the twin speakers on the front face. Not only was their output quite admirable, but also the audio quality was pretty clear. As with most music phones, the audio was somewhat tinny, but still, it was fine for short stints. The EV-DO connection for music downloads was satisfactory, as well. We downloaded 1.5MB in about 40 seconds.
Video quality wasn't as sharp, unfortunately. Though the sound was decent and voices matched the speakers' mouths, we noticed a fair amount of pixilation. Also, swift movements tended to be blurry. The signal was solid, however, and we never lost a connection or had to pause for rebuffering.
The Samsung Gleam SCH-U700 has a rated battery life of 3.5 hours talk time and 10.4 days standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Gleam has a digital digital SAR rating for 0.872 watt per kilogram.